By RIYADH: RODOLFO ESTIMO JR., ARAB NEWS STAFF
Published: Mar 1, 2012 01:51 Updated: Mar 1, 2012 01:51
Saudi Arabias Board of Grievances (BOG) upheld on Tuesday the recommendation of the Ministry of Information to impose a jail sentence on a Saudi businessman trading in pirated goods.
The conviction is seen by the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA) as a precedent for merchants to strictly comply with Saudi piracy laws and serves as a deterrent to would-be violators, Scott Butler, AAA chief executive officer, told Arab News on Tuesday. Rafeik Al-Okaily, the ministrys director of copyrights, said the Violation Review Committee recommended a fine of SR150,000 and a 10-day prison sentence for the Saudi trader.
Butler added that in delivering its judgment, the BOG had also quashed doubts about the enforcement of piracy laws in Saudi Arabia, which has recorded the highest piracy rate in the GCC at 60 percent. The adjudication of the case is a very important victory for anti-piracy advocates as it is the first-ever court judgment in the Kingdom resulting in imprisonment, Butler said. He added the judgment is a strong deterrent to prevent such criminal activities from proliferating in the country, knowing the Saudi judiciary is prepared to apply the full force of the law in trying cases related to piracy.
Piracy has resulted in huge losses to the Saudi economy with studies indicating that reduction of piracy rates could have potentially yielded up to $1 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) in the past two years, he said. This clearly represents a huge incentive for the Saudi government, Butler added, to step up its efforts to break up pirate syndicates. For our part, the AAA, along with our strategic partners, is certainly eager to provide all necessary support to ensure that anti-piracy laws are strictly enforced in the Kingdom, Butler said.